Not even the below-seasonal temperatures could stop thousands of British Columbians from coming to the Okanagan Fest of Ale in Penticton on Saturday, May 14.
The event welcomed 2,500 people at Okanagan Lake Park for its first-ever outdoor gathering, after taking a two-year hiatus amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nine unique food stands, 68 beer vendors, musical performances from Okanagan-based artists and several outdoor activities headlined the day by the lake.
“We are outside for the very first time, celebrating the festival’s 25th anniversary and it’s very special being out here today,” said Sarah Taylor, an event planner at the Okanagan Fest of Ale Society.
The non-profit organization has raised over $750,000 since launching the event in 1996 and is expected to add significantly to that total after this year’s gathering. A total of 2,000 tickets were sold for the 2022 edition of the festival, which was previously hosted by the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.
“This park is filled with people,” Taylor said, watching thousands take in the festivities on a chilly Penticton day.
“Rain or shine, everyone is just so excited for this. They got their sweaters on and their smiles on, too. This is really the first big event in Penticton since the lockdown.”
The Peach City welcomed people from the Lower Mainland and Alberta on Saturday, thanks to the one-day event.
Jaclyn Kinrade, a director at the festival, added that vendors from Kelowna and across the Okanagan made the trip to take part in the 25th-anniversary celebration.
Instead of its usual two-day indoor format, the festival announced last winter it would be taking the party outdoors for a one-day extraordinaire in 2022.
Axe throwing competitions, local buskers and even a barbershop booth were set up at the park, supporting the dozens of food and drink vendors present at the event.
The Okanagan Fest of Ale has been an annual success since 1996, thanks to the former owners of Penticton’s Tin Whistle and their drive to create a beer festival in the Peach City.
2022’s event started at 12 p.m., with a scheduled closing time of 7 p.m.